Cooks, Nurses, Chauffeurs and Errand Boys: Snapshots of the Spanish Influenza among Western Baptists
Like Canadian Baptists in Central and Eastern Canada, churches of the Baptist Union of Western Canada (BUWC) faced severe hardships due to the “Spanish Influenza” sweeping across Canada and the globe.
The monthly newspaper called The Western Baptist provided commentary on the impact of the pandemic on BUWC local churches. And, as the commentary below indicates, the impact varied from congregation to congregation. The responses of the churches were impressive, with a wide variety of ministries offered to the suffering. The following is a brief snapshot of the churches during those dark days.
The church in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, attempted to “carry on through the period of the ban” through “visiting, and personal and circular letters.” The church’s finances took a blow due to no services being held, and the finance committee needed to send out notices to inform members where they could drop off money to keep the ministry afloat. The church was active in helping in the midst of the pandemic, with the “whole adult membership of the church… helping the sick in the capacity of cooks, nurses, chauffeurs and errand boys.” The pastor and his family did get sick, but “escaped lightly.”
Ruth Morton Memorial Church in Vancouver was closed for weeks, with many members getting sick and a number dying. Many members acted as “volunteer nurses” tending to the needy in the church, and others worked in the city carrying out “Samaritan work” in hospitals and homes.
The church in Droxford, Saskatchewan, was closed for two months. The work in the church was “severely hindered,” but fortunately there were no deaths.
Rapid City Baptist Church lost a young man to the flu. He had been working on a power plant.
The church in Kelowna had to cancel its fall revival services. The church continued to meet in smaller groups (“cottage meetings”) in homes, and distributed tracts and Gospels.
Some churches in Alberta had been closed for nine weeks and counting. One woman in Vancouver nursed the child of a woman who died with the flu, and did so until she, herself, was stricken with the illness.
McDonald Church in Edmonton was closed for seven Sundays, as was First Baptist in Dauphin.
The BUWC annual meeting was not postponed due to the pandemic because its meeting was early in the new year (unlike central and eastern Baptists who had to postpone their fall meetings in what had been prime-time pandemic season). The leaders met in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, in January 1919. The pandemic was not over, but the churches had weathered the worst of the storm and there was cautious optimism about the future.
There is much more to be done in terms of researching the churches’ responses to the pandemic, but a lesson for today that can be gleaned from their experience is that one way to deal with such a crisis is to “help the sick in the capacity of cooks, nurses, chauffeurs and errand boys.”
CBWC Foundation Announcement
As you may be aware, the Foundation is undergoing some changes, and although this impacts some of what we do, we remain committed to serving the CBWC community, specifically for financing needs, education grants and donation options. Transitions can appear messy, but we do remain encouraged and excited to introduce the team leading us through this next season.
Victor Ku is currently acting as part-time Interim President, along with continuing in his role as the Director of Administration and Finance for the CBWC, where he has served since 2011. Victor graduated with a B.Sc.(Engineering) degree from the University of Guelph, majoring in Agricultural Engineering, and obtained a M.A. in Applied Theology from Regent College. Victor has 23 years of corporate experience in various engineering fields and, in 2005, felt the call of God in his life to serve in a new missional capacity. email: email@example.com
Christine Reid started with the Foundation in 2012 and continues to serve in her existing role as VP Operations. Chris is a SAIT Business graduate, offers 25 years of experience in corporate and retail lending, completed the Mortgage Associates Program in 2012, passed her Canadian Securities exam and sat on the Partners in Deed Board from 2012-2017. In addition to managing the loans portfolio, Chris will continue to facilitate education grants and share donations. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nataliya D’yachenko is serving part-time as the Senior Accountant of the Foundation, in addition to her continued role at the CBWC. Nataliya joined the CBWC family in 2011, first at the Foundation (one-year contract), and subsequently joining the CBWC team. She graduated with a B.Sc. degree in Math from the University of Dnipro (Ukraine) and is currently working towards her CPA designation. She has 16 years of accounting experience. email: email@example.com
Herb Ziegler – Chairman
For more information go to the website: http://www.cbwcfoundation.ca, or reach out to their team by phone or email anytime.
Congratulations Mark Doerksen!
The CBWC wants to offer a huge congratulations to Heartland Regional Minister, Mark Doerksen, for completing his Doctor of Ministry degree! This was a significant undertaking and we are very proud of his accomplishment.
The title of his final project was The Connection Between Baptism and Membership Practices in Canadian Baptists of Western Canada Churches.
Below are some comments from Mark:
I wish to thank the CBWC pastors who helped me in my studies by completing a survey about baptism and membership practices in their churches.
To finish a project like this requires support from different people in my life, and I’m grateful for the following, though the list is not exhaustive: my wife Mary and our kids who were very patient and understanding; Rob Ogilvie, the Executive Minister of the CBWC, was very encouraging and helped me navigate my professional development to get the project completed; the various instructors at Carey Theological College and my supervisor Dr. William Brackney, who were encouraging and insightful as they supported me in my studies.
This final project has helped me grow in appreciation for the Baptist story, for the historical Baptist desire to return to New Testament practices and to work hard at the concept of a regenerate church. I hope to have further conversations with interested folks as a result.
Finally, I am now much more skilled in the use of Ebsco resources, obscure bibliographical references, and the Oxford comma. I count Kate Turabian, author of A Manual for Writers, as a close, family friend.
You can read more about Mark’s experience in this month’s Heartland Regional newsletter. Below is the 2020-2021 Carey Theological College Course Schedule.
Copyright © 2019 Canadian Baptists of Western Canada, All rights reserved.
Making Connections is the monthly newsletter of the CBWC.